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Sri Lanka: Muslims must be protected from reprisal attacks

Responding to the killing of at least one person and a spate of recent attacks against Muslim-owned businesses, mosques and houses in several parts of Sri Lanka, Thyagi Ruwanpathirana, Amnesty International’s South Asia Researcher, said:

“The Sri Lankan authorities must protect the country’s Muslim minority as it is being targeted by mobs in horrific attacks on their homes, mosques and businesses in the wake of the Easter Sunday massacre.

“These attacks did not emerge out of a vacuum. There were clear signs that a backlash against Muslims was underway, and the authorities could have acted on reports of threats earlier, potentially preventing much of the violence over recent days.

“The authorities must take steps to promote unity in diversity against the forces of hatred, those promoting fear and violence, and pitting communities against each other.

“The authorities must put the protection of human rights at the heart of its response and prevent further violence, including holding the suspected perpetrators of earlier attacks accountable.”

Easter Sunday attacks

On 21 April, more than 250 people were killed and hundreds injured when bombers from a local Islamist armed group affiliated to the Islamic State armed group targeted three churches and three hotels on Easter Sunday. Since then, heightened security measures in the country, including intermittent bans on social media and a discriminatory ban on face veils, there have been frequent reports of anti-Muslim attacks in many parts in the country.

Yesterday, the government imposed a countrywide curfew following reports of widespread attacks against Muslim-owned businesses, homes and mosques.

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